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Florida is home to many world-famous flight schools, but the taxes on aviation fuel can further elevate the already sky-high education costs. Florida lawmakers see those taxes as unnecessary ballast.

Last year 4 million people visited SeaWorld's theme parks, where the top shows feature orcas, also known as killer whales. For years, activists have charged that keeping orcas in captivity is harmful to the animals and risky for the trainers who work with them, a case that gained urgency in 2010 when Dawn Brancheau, a veteran orca trainer, was dragged into the water and killed by a whale at the SeaWorld Park in Orlando, Fla. When Brancheau died, there was some dispute as to whether the whale's intent was aggressive and whose fault the incident was.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Hundreds of business women gathered Thursday at the Floridan Palace Hotel in downtown Tampa for a luncheon, guest speakers and special announcement.

The announcement was tucked inside a black, matte envelope and covered in orange, purple and pink chevron print with a quote from Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling.

There comes a day in every car owner's life when she knows, it's time. For Carolyn Ballard of Atlanta, that was on a hot day last July, while driving her SUV with misfiring cylinders.

"I drove to the dealership with the car literally chugging along," she says. "I mean, in traffic on the interstate. I was just sweating, thinking I've just got to get to the dealership so I can get rid of this, before I put any more money into it."

leftlearninglive.org

Florida's unemployment rate is staying flat.

New numbers released Tuesday show that the state's unemployment rate for January was 5.7 percent. That's unchanged from revised figures for December.

The state's unemployment rate is now slightly higher than the national unemployment rate.

Florida added an estimated 13,900 jobs in December. The new figures show there are roughly 551,000 people out of work in the state.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the new jobs numbers during a visit to a production company that moved from Virginia to Ellenton in 2012.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism committee took up the state’s growler ban Monday.  Measures doing away with the state’s restriction continue to march forward in both chambers of the Legislature.

Uber Preps For State Regulation

Mar 10, 2015

The ride-hailing app, Uber, has been operating in the state for the better part of 2014 despite statewide concerns over safety, insurance coverage and legality. While a patchwork of regulation has begun to develop on the local level,  state lawmakers are eager to settle the issue once and for all.

The most valuable tech start up in the world does not want to be legally defined as a car service alongside taxis and limos.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are among the thousands of businesses, religious groups, advocacy organizations and politicians who are filing legal briefs at the Supreme Court in support of gay marriage.

So are reigning football and baseball champions, the New England Patriots and San Francisco Giants.

The cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee will be argued April 28, and a decision is expected by early summer.

Utilities won’t be able to up a customer’s rates because of how they read meters if a bill sponsored by  Sen. Charlie Dean (R--Ocala)  becomes law. Dean says some of his constituents saw higher bills after a utility in his area extended its meter reading period. The longer time bumped customers' usage up into a more costly pay bracket. Dean says his bill would prevent that.

After beer retailers and distributors challenged a legal exception that helps craft brewers open up tap rooms, two Florida senators put forward a measure doing away with the exception completely—in effect ensuring breweries can sell beer on-site.  But that original challenge hasn’t disappeared.

House Gambling Bill Includes Casinos, More Slots - Not For Seminoles

Mar 3, 2015
blog.hardrock.com

Two Las Vegas-style casinos, greyhound tracks without dog racing and slot machines at two pari-mutuels outside South Florida are all on the table in a sweeping House proposal released Monday.

A statewide commission to oversee the gambling industry is also part of a 316-page bill made public by the proposal's sponsor, House Majority Leader Dana Young, a day before the 2015 legislative session begins.

The United States hasn’t imported a thing from communist Cuba in 53 years. Today the Obama Administration set out the rules for changing that. 

But you won’t see any of Cuba’s famous cigars arriving at PortMiami just yet.

Strategic Property Partners LLC

Along with the Amelie Arena and the proposed University of South Florida medical school/heart institute, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik wants the headquarters for a Fortune 500 company to be a centerpiece of his

Citrus greening, which has laid waste to vast swaths of Florida's famed orange groves, has definitely gotten the attention of the federal government.

Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced he was allocating $30 million for 22 projects to help citrus producers combat citrus greening. It's considered one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world. It's also known as Huanglongbing, or yellow dragon disease. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure.

Gas prices in Florida are going up.

Some gas stations are already increasing prices by about 10 cents and that’s normal around this time of the year.

According to the auto club AAA,  seasonal demand and maintenance are the causes for the gas price increase.

As we approach spring, prices usually rise between 30 and 35 cents.

But it’s not all that bad. Even when station gas prices do go up this spring, the national average is not expected to surpass $3 dollars a gallon. 

The state could grow an even faster under a bill filed by a Southwest Florida lawmaker. Legislation by a Senate Republican would allow developers to cut through government red tape.

A bill by Senator Wilton Simpson of Brooksville would allow more builders to expedite their projects by avoiding a government approval process called developments of regional impact, or DRIs. It would boost economic development, but environmentalists like 1,000 Friends of Florida’s Charles Pattison have big concerns.

A disease known as citrus greening continues to devastate Florida’s iconic crop. An expert warns time is running out for the state’s growers.

Harold Browning, chief operations officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, says scientists are making progress to slow the disease, but it may not be fast enough.

“Without some interventions to slow the decline of these trees to allow for the replanting of citrus, we’re not going to retain the citrus industry as we know it.”

Associated Press

  

Florida's unemployment rate continues to drop.

This morning, the state's December 2014 unemployment numbers were released. Last month, the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent—down 0.2 percent from November—numbers that mirror the national trend.

 Florida added an estimated 12,700 jobs in December. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since the spring of 2008 when it was 5.4 percent. The new figures also show that there are roughly 543,000 people out of work in the Sunshine State. 

It seems there’s new trouble brewing for Florida’s small but growing craft beer industry.  The Florida Retail Federation is challenging a long-standing exception to the state’s licensing rules that allows a brewery to sell beer in on-site ‘tasting’ or ‘tap’ rooms.  But this isn’t the only attack the state’s rules have drawn.

Beer is bipartisan.  Really, it’s hard to imagine something more people can agree on.  But, unfortunately in Florida, beer is a political issue.

Swoope To Depart Enterprise Florida Next Month

Jan 15, 2015

Florida’s top jobs recruiter is stepping down from his post.

At the end of February, Gray Swoope will resign.  He’s the state’s Secretary of Commerce as well as the head of Enterprise Florida, the state’s lead economic development agency.

Swoope was one of the few top officials who served during Governor Rick Scott’s entire first term.

In a statement following Swoope’s announced departure, Scott hailed Swoope for creating “a jobs legacy” and for making “major economic deals” happen for the state.

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